Ariki Adventures Raro Challenge a raging success

Published Thu 29 Sep 2022

The weather on Saturday was just perfect for the Cook Islands Triathlon Ariki Adventures Raro Challenge which was being held for the 2nd consecutive year.   20 competitors excitedly lined up on the beach infront of Enua Manea Hall and at 8am prompt the epic day started.

A favourable current and brisk tailwind combined to give fast paddling conditions for the 5.7km Stand Up Paddle Board section of the race.  Onlookers saw the majority of the field head out towards the reef, with just John Engu taking his own line, staying closer to the shore, a move which proved advantageous for him giving him an excellent start to the race.  Visibility in the lagoon was perfect and competitors reported paddling past turtles and rays on their boards.  Roly and Maria Rolleston had a fantastic first leg and exited the water to take the lead ahead of Adrianna Skurosz and Jakub Postrzygacz.  The battle between all male teams David Street with Andrew Logan and Roland Neururer with Matt Wyatt was already proving exciting, with only 22 seconds separating these 2 teams after the first leg of the race.   With a very quick transition Roly and Maria headed out onto the run leg first, followed closely by Roland and Matt, David and Andrew and Jason Moorfield with his new partner Megan Williams who read about the race in last week’s paper and was able to join Jason when sadly his wife and original partner for the day Tarina came down with the covid virus.  From the water the teams headed inland, up to the Waterfall and commenced the Cross Island Track for a run or scramble across the island.   The lead quickly changed, Roland and Matt took up first place from Maria and Roly, but they were quickly hunted down by David and Andrew who are both very strong runners.

Transition managers waited for news of who would exit the bush first, and into T2 came David and Andrew with a 9 minute lead over 2nd place Roland and Matt. Sadly the many circulating illnesses had gotten the better of Matt and after a gruelling first 2 legs he had to withdraw from the race.  Roland was therefore unable to defend his title as it is a team event, so he continued on the 48km mountain bike leg without a partner ‘just for fun!’  A super quick run from Adrian Hopwood and Chris Stansell saw them come into T2 in 3rd place only 10 minutes behind the leaders.

Teams left the Avatiu Valley transition area straight into one of the steepest hills of the day, the first of a number of gruelling ascents.  The route took competitors up arduous climbs in Avatiu, behind Tereora College, near Highland Paradise, in Rutaki, Takitumu and Avana.  The day was not without it’s drama and the Highland Paradise descent proved very tricky.  Leader David Street took a hard fall sustaining injuries and also breaking his saddle.  Quick thinking and ingenious use of duct tape at the cycle checkpoint by marshal Debbie Whittaker ensured he was able to continue the race.

Another casualty on the same hill was team Roleston Bucket List with Maria damaging her bike too, although thankfully not herself.  The loss of a bike for a portion of the race meant that although Maria and Roly continued to finish the course the time was unable to be counted in the final placings.   Avana water intakes also proved slippery and by this time the very weary teams had been racing for over 4 hours, two teams sustained crashes here, but fortunately without serious injury.

After a massive day in the heat and with a punishing course it was a hugely exciting finish, the GPS live tracking showed the first 2 teams racing within a kilometer of each other.  The overall winners of the race were David Street and Andrew Logan with a time of 5:20:20 second across the line were Jason Moorfield and Megan Willans less than 2 minutes behind in 5:21:51.  CITAI President Roland Neururer would like to congratulate the winners and all the athletes who took part.  This is truly a unique race which tests both physical and mental toughness, to complete this is an outstanding achievement and one which should not be taken lightly.  Everyone who has finished this course has undertaken something very special.

Full results were as follows:

Male Teams

Mixed Teams

1st David Street, Andrew Logan 5:20:20

1st Megan Willans, Jason Moorfield 5:21:51

2nd Adrian Hopwood, Chris Stansell 6:14:15

2nd Adriana Skurosz, Jakub Postrzygacz 5:56:51

3rd John Engu, Bobby Cervantes 7:10:10

3rd Helena Cook, Nick Shalders 6:40:11

4th Alun Dodd, Andrew Whittaker 7:13:48

5th Roland Neururer, Matt Wyatt (WD) DQ (4:59:27)

4th Marama and Richard Denny 7:03:47

5th Maria and Roly Rolleston DQ (6:21:57)


CITAI wishes to thank Ariki Adventures for their very generous sponsorship of the race for the 2nd consecutive year, supporting sponsors The Bond Stoner and Vaima Water, The Raina Family for the use of the land at Enua Manea Hall, Hayley and Rory Anderson for their tremendous assistance with the first aid crew. Puaikura Volunteer Fire Brigade and all the marshals for generously donating their time to ensure the event ran smoothly.

The Triathlon Association’s next event is for the Cook Islands Games on 10th October, a sprint distance triathon 750m swim / 20km cycle / 5km run.  Please do make contact with Roland via your island rep if you wish to enter this event.